Although Lima markets are not as typical as those in other peruvian cities, a short visit to them would be good to know about the people and the food. The markets are a sample of how a city is, what do they produce, sell and eat, their mood and how wit they are to survive. If possible, try to go with a local in order to be explained about things you surely have not seen before. If you want a real "exhibition" of fruits available in Peru, go to the Mercado de Frutas (in La Victoria, don´t take belongings with you), the central trading point of fruits coming from all the regions. Probably you will want to take one bundle of each!! Other known "mercados" are: the Mercado Central, between the Av. Abancay and the Chinatown; Mercado Aurora, one block off Av. Tacna in Av. Emancipación; Jesús María market, in the district of same name and the Mercado de Barranco, some blocks near the Parque Municipal of Barranco.
Formerly, there was a big flower market in the southern side of the National Stadium. Then, with the new changes the Major has made, they have been transfered to different areas and in the same place there are only few flower vendors. However, worth a visit to see the great quantity of flower species and colors. Next to it, there is the Municipal Greenhouse, which now is employing (with good social and economic results) the poor wee children who used to rob in central Lima. The other flower markets are located in the Plaza de Acho area and the corner of Vía de Evitamiento and Puente Santa Rosa in Rímac. You have to be careful when going to these both places.
For shopping in supermarkets, there is a wide quantity of them in all Lima. They are very supplied and have special days for discounts, whcich are advertised in frequently in El Comercio daily. The best supermarkets are E. Wong, Santa Isabel and Metro (hypermarket). Avoid the Top Market chain, they usually charge you a different price from what is said in the showcases and the attention to clients is bad.
if you want to go for a non-budget shopping day in great malls and trading centre try the Jockey Plaza Shopping Center, the last biggest mall of Peru and one of its size in South America. The great part of shops there, are for clothing, but there are also restaurants, department stores, fast food, multiplex cinemas, home appliances, etc. It is now a custome for limeños to stroll in Saturdays and Sundays. LarcoMar is the newest shopping centre, which is located in the last block of Av. Larco, Miraflores. There are cafés (inc. a Hard Rock Café with sea view), multicinemas, shops, bowling, restaurant, park, etc. Centro Comercial Camino Real, famous before Jockey Plaza was built, is a big centre of three levels in the area of San Isidro. In San Miguel, there is the Plaza San Miguel, another mall which has been changed and improved. Popular with food, department stores and multiplex cinemas. In Chacarilla (on the way to Museo de Oro), are located the Centro Comercial Caminos del Inca and C.C. Chacarilla, whose "delicacy" is clothing. Others are: C.C. Risso and C.C. Arenales in Lince. The most popular department stores in Lima are Saga Falabella and Ripley. The first blocks of Av. Larco are also popular for shopping as well as the Jirón de la Unión in Central Lima.
Formerly behind the Government Palace (incredibly true!), the ex-black market known as Polvos Azules now has been transfered to a place near the Plaza Grau (one block off) where they are building a trading center as a completion of its legalisation process. You can find there almost anything (new) at good prices (some of them are smuggled). For second-hand or stolen things, try the a-bit-dangerous "La Cachina" market, in the first blocks of Av. Argentina next to the Plaza Castilla. There is also a fair of hardware and house-building goods.
Lima is the best choice for buying handicrafts of good quality with no substantial difference in price comparing to other Peruvian cities. The so-called "Indian markets" display a wide range of handicrafts from all over Peru (sometimes the best pieces are here): weavings, woolen clothing, copies of colonial paintings, jewellery, bric-a-brac, ceramics, woodwork, silver filligrees, alpaca sweaters, iron and leatherwork. First, watch around and after having found the best price, buy. Bargain is possible, but don´t pull the thing so much!! They are located in the Av. La Marina, blocks 6th to 10th, Pueblo Libre. Other good option is the Miraflores' crafts market in Av. Petit Thouars, varied but smaller than la marina markets, 3 blocks from the Miraflores roundabout.
For exchange and cheap books, try the Jr. Quilca fairs, between Plaza San Martín and Av. Garcilaso de la Vega (ex-Wilson). Expensive (but good) books at Librería Epoca (Ovalo Gutiérrez) and the bookshops located in Av. Larco (both in Miraflores).